Investment Management After Top MBA - Does Pre-MBA Experience Matter?

ApolloEast's picture
Rank: Monkey | 43

Hello everyone,

I'm a couple years into my career in corporate finance at an F100. I have my sights set on an M7 MBA later on, and I am interested in pursuing investment management in equities afterwards.

I know that top MBA programs do have recruitment for funds like PIMCO, Fidelity, Wellington, BlackRock, etc, and I'd like to target those, but I am worried that they would expect pre-MBA investment experience in something like Equity Research, IB, or even Investment Management itself.

Can I go from corporate finance > M7 MBA > IM or is it a long shot without prior investment experience? If I move from corporate finance to, say, corporate treasury, development, or strategy (all possibilities right now) before going for my MBA, would that help? What if I also completed my CFA?


Comments (21)

Jun 20, 2018

ApolloEast, bummer your thread hasn't had a response yet. Maybe one of these threads could point you in the right direction:

  • Biggest Decision of My Life: Undergrad B-School following schools: Georgetown Mcdonough School of Business Pro: Very strong placement into Wall Street ... better) and I know that I am already into their business school. Offer mathematical risk management. Cons: ... Investment Banking Industry Rankings IB Salary Hours in Investment Banking Debt Capital Mark
  • Does it matter what B-school I attend for investment banking? an associate. Does it matter where I do my MBA to get into investment banking if I already have ... I want to be in investment banking long term. I want to study for an MBA and join investment banking as ... experience in investment banking? to Thursday, June 8, 2017- 10:55am ...
  • Physics undergrad admitted to top b-school will probably allow me to apply with good chances to all top b-schools for an msc. Here are my ... the opportunities it seems to offer I decided to apply to a few b-schools in europe (Bocconi in italy ... rankings and is definitely the best physics school in Italy). When I enrolled to this undergrad course, ...
  • Does UNDERGRAD school reputation/prestige matter for B-School admissions? B-schools this fall for matriculation in fall 2017 (at which point I would have four years of total ... CFA, but haven't yet taken Level 2. I have not yet taken the GMAT. I would like to attend B-school ... back in high school (not sure if that's even relevant now). Post-college, I joined the Fortune 50 ...
  • Best path for getting into top b-school you to have a business background pre-mba. Of the following options, which do you think would be most ... I'm considering the possibility of going to business school in 5 years, and then ... transitioning into banking or consulting. I would like to attend a top ten school, ideally a top 7 I am ...
  • To anyone considering an MBA pursue b-school Despite the fact that I am on a partner track without having an MBA, I made the choice to ... the rest of my career unless I lose my job or retire. What I can learn in B-school Money aside, I also ... B-school is an opportunity for people to develop this soft skill through frequent interactions with others ...
  • Having serious thoughts about B-school for the first time- can anyone offer any advice? and b-school thoughts have started entering my mind. I'll lay out my background below but these ... are the main questions swirling around in my head: 1) will b-school help me get to be where I want to ... 20 year old). Work experience: ~1.75yrs institutional private markets asset management and now ~3yrs ...
  • Another Take on Target Schools: Representation at America's Elite B-Schools college is to see how many alums end up at elite business schools (M7) since it goes to follow that in ... People discuss target schools and rankings all the time but usually people just toss out anecdotes ... with no facts to back up their statements. One way to gauge how strong of a target school a certain ...
  • More suggestions...

No promises, but thought I'd mention a few relevant users that work in the industry: @dzelinski @jpc100 @JIbiyooye

If those topics were completely useless, don't blame me, blame my programmers...

Jun 28, 2018


Jun 28, 2018

You can make the jump just fine if you're interested and talented. Might be easier if you played to your previous strength, I.e. go for an equity research position in the sector that you worked in at the f100 company.

    • 1
Jun 29, 2018

That's good to hear, thanks. Also, follow-up - can one realistically transition between fixed income and equity specialization for portfolio management, or is pigeonholing a thing for asset classes?

Jun 30, 2018

Harder, but not impossible. When you say portfolio management, do you mean portfolio analyst or portfolio manager? IMO fixed income portfolio analysts add a lot more value than equity portfolio analysts. This is purely because of the asset class characteristics. Personally, I prefer research, but to each their own. Portfolio analysis is a good career path with great hours and good compensation.

Learn More

Boost your resume and land a finance job by passing the FINRA SIE. 264 pages & 1981 smart flashcards written by a former 8X top Fidelity instructor. Try it for 0 bananas here.

Jul 11, 2018

Seen it done but depends how the company is re internal mobility, diff companies have v different approaches to it.

Jun 30, 2018

I have other comments related to this advice.

First, if you get into M7 and pursue IM you will have a good amount of IM recruiting activity in and around your school. So that's a very nice positive.

How do you close the deal? Know companies, have opinions on stocks. Choose an industry and do deep research. Come to an interview and have a thesis ready.

Do this instead of a CFA.

It's a small incremental positive to move to a treasury/development/strategy position. The best corporate job to land would be with the in house pension team, if it exists.

Much more important to know companies and have educated opinions. We don't want broad, that comes with time and experience. Give us deep.

Jun 30, 2018

I should have at least a couple of years before I go for my MBA (although I've already taken my GMAT and got a high enough score), so I can focus on both if it helps. Do you have any suggestions for resources as far as performing "deep research" goes? Should I get my hands on some sell-side equity research reports and start thoroughly following an industry, or maybe read some books on equity analysis? I would hope that an M7 MBA would at least get me interviews, so if I can show that I have knowledge I could have a good shot regardless of how relevant my prior finance experience was.

    • 1
Jul 11, 2018

An M7 MBA gives you a better shot at banking or sell-side ER than the buy side. End of the day the buy side (PE or AM or HF) care ALOT about prior experience. With that said, it isn't impossible to go to the buy side without prior experience after an MBA, it's just very unlikely as spots are extremely competitive and extreme limited.

    • 1
Most Helpful
Jul 11, 2018

Current sell-side equity research associate looking to pursue M7 and investment management. I've wanted to work at a value asset manager since undergrad, and have made most of my career decisions with this in mind. I'm going to disagree with a lot of what's been said in the thread so far.

To answer your initial question, yes Pre-MBA experience matters a lot. Here's part of a post from a Columbia MBA student that posted AMA: Reflections On 1st Semester At Columbia Business School. This was posted 3 years ago, and the IM industry has continued to see headwinds with fee compression due to passive investing. MIFID II is causing the sell-side to restructure with sell-siders also competing for the smaller available pool of positions on the buy side.


dabears92: I would also note that investment management, relatively speaking, seems to be the "hottest" and most desired industry at Columbia. I believe this is driven by two factors: 1) top mutual funds and hedge funds don't interview people without relevant experience, so people that worked in industries outside finance (i.e. Consulting, Operations, Technology, Manufacturing, General Management) will not get interviews, even if they network extensively (caveat: some MBB consultants, for example, a female friend of mine who attended HYP and worked at MBB, do get interviews. Also, certain URM and Veteran applicants are offered some additional flexibility). My most impressive classmates (HYP undergrad, Goldman TMT, Mega-Fund PE) are almost exclusively interested in top mutual funds & hedge funds, and set an extremely high bar for recruiting. 2) the positions are extremely hard to get. For example, for 1st round interview slots, Eaton Vance has 13 slots. Also, whereas Goldman Sachs will hire tens of people from Columbia this year for internship positions, the elite mutual funds / hedge funds have an entire associate class of 2-3. MFS will likely hire 2-3 Summer Associates and recruit at all of the M7 (at least to my understanding, I know for sure they recruit at Harvard, Wharton, Sloan and Columbia). Just from Harvard, 100 people applied to MFS for a summer internship. Do the math - the numbers are quite daunting and competitive.

I posted a similar question, but from my situation here. A lot of good advice in the thread, with the takeaway being despite that I'm in a solid position with sell-side ER experience, high test scores, etc. it's still an uphill battle.
I know you said the MBA is down the line so you may still have time for a job switch before. Sit for the CFA and look for any available sell-side ER jobs in your current industry.

I don't agree with the career path @SomePleb laid out. The sell-side is currently in limbo, and no one knows exactly how ER will turn out. If you hypothetically do MBA -> few years buy-side -> you'll be around 30, and you'll be entering a declining industry as an associate with little to no room to become the lead analyst given the sell-side changes I've discussed so far.

While I don't mean to discourage you, I think it's good to have a clear idea what the industry looks like. Gone are the days where active management could always see flows since they were the main way to access the markets. There will always be a place for active management, but just know you'll be competing against qualified people for a limited number of seats. My main point is that you have to know to your core that you want to work in fundamental research because it will take a lot of time to catch up to speed, sit for the CFA (potentially 900+ hours to complete all 3 levels), and develop your own framework for understanding and valuing a company. I'm only a little further on the journey than you, and it's quite a daunting task.

    • 5
Jul 11, 2018

I'm finishing up my second year in S&T (credit sales at GS/MS/JPM) and will be starting at a top MBA program in the fall (Wharton/Columbia). Will getting into a top AM program or HF for research or portfolio management still be very difficult? I'm thinking fixed income is the way to go, since that is my current background, but will the competition from the top tier M&A bankers/MF PE guys make this exceedingly hard?

Jul 20, 2018

Hey, firstly congrats for getting into the program.

All my evidence is anecdotal but happy to share some of my thoughts. Passive hasn't hit bond managers as much as equity. When people talk about asset management they usually think of vanilla equity funds, and incorrectly group the whole industry. The reality is there's obviously so much more and there can be niches within the industry that can thrive despite fee pressure and move from active to passive. I think you would find more success by focusing your story on credit research and targeting those roles as opposed to equity.

To your question on competition, I think M&A bankers and PE guys are generally recruiting for more PE roles, but I don't think PE -> HF (equity and debt distressed) is out of the question. W/ portfolio management, are you referring to more asset allocation roles like FoF or an endowment? That I'm not too certain about since the job is pretty removed from fundamental research. It seems like these jobs would require the least amount of fundamental research background, and the skills needed to succeed here are having a broad understanding of asset classes and the macro environment, also people skills with interviewing and dealing with fund managers that you might give capital to.

    • 2
Aug 17, 2018
    • 2
    • 1